Holidaymakers must avoid testing queues

Health workers conduct COVID-19 tests at the Bondi Beach testing clinic on December 28, 2021. Photo: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

NSW Health is advising people who attend NSW COVID-19 testing locations seeking results to travel interstate that they are unlikely to receive their results within 72 hours.

The delay means NSW travellers who intend to holiday in Queensland will not get their result before its January 1 changes to PCR swab requirements come into effect.

Interstate travellers to Queensland will then only need to get a rapid antigen test.

The decision by Queensland brings the Sunshine State in line with most other jurisdictions including New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.

Holidaymakers are now urged to avoid testing queues to help ease pressure on laboratory testing.

As at 27 December 2021, pathology services in NSW had processed more than 24 million tests but like other states, “tourism testing” has stretched testing capabilities

To reduce the strain on our staff and services and better protect the NSW community, NSW Health is taking further steps to limit testing that is not clinically urgent.

Prioritisation will be given to people getting a PCR test (nose and throat swab) who:

  • have COVID-19 symptoms or a positive rapid antigen test
  • are a household contact with a confirmed COVID-19 positive case 
  • have been in a venue where there has been high transmission such as a club
  • have been in a setting with vulnerable people, such as an aged care facility, which is experiencing a current outbreak. 

If an individual receives a case alert in the Service NSW app, they should monitor for COVID-19 symptoms but only go and get a PCR test if symptoms develop.

With such high cases of the Omicron variant in circulation in Australia, as an added precaution, people should consider taking a rapid antigen test before going out, particularly if socialising in groups of people or anywhere it may be difficult to physically distance. Information on how to use rapid antigen tests is available on the NSW Government website.

Anyone who has a positive rapid antigen test result, must go and get a PCR COVID-19 test to confirm the result and isolate immediately. They should also advise friends, family and any associates who they have been in contact with, to go and get tested.